So much has been on my mind lately, and I believe it is time to get it out of my system. Every employee at Lees-McRae College works very hard. We work for an institution of higher learning. Lees-McRae College is an NCAA Division II school with 17 highly competitive intercollegiate teams. Twenty-two academic majors and 16 minors are authorized by SACS, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Students have been graduating for the past 21 years with their bachelor degrees and enjoying wonderful success in their lives—the same is true for our junior college alumni. There are more than 6,000 alumni in the College’s database.
However, what is astonishing to me, being an alumna from the junior college tradition, an alumna from the first baccalaureate class, a 3rd generation Bobcat, an employee, and a home-grown local is this – where are Lees-McRae’s alumni? Why do Lees-McRae alumni let College friends outdo them in their philanthropy to their own Alma Mater? Less than 10% of us made an annual gift to LMC last fiscal year. Really? Less than 600 alumni feel connected enough to give back. Does their experience at LMC mean that little? Are they not inspired by the College’s recent successes? What are we not doing right with our alumni?
The Office of Advancement, albeit small; we are a mighty bunch. We are charged and held accountable for connecting and engaging with alumni, in addition to fundraising. Just like Mars Hill, Lenoir-Rhyne or even Appalachian State – Lees-McRae uses the same formula for fundraising: phone-a-thons, solicitation letters, post cards, personal visits, special events and monthly email messages to name a few strategies. These initiatives are not unique to Lees-McRae. We are professionals in the alumni and fundraising industry and best practices guide our work. However, I feel like some alumni discount our work. I get the impression that some don’t think we stack up professionally with other larger institutions. Our budgets are small, and we are understaffed, but we aren’t beggars, and we aren’t panhandlers; we are proud Bobcats fighting tooth and nail for the institution we believe makes a difference in the Appalachian Mountains of NC. I will put our promotional and solicitation materials up against any other top quality colleges – even our friendly neighbor in Boone.
No more, “Poor Lees-McRae.” Don’t feel sorry for us. Just like Emeril Lagasse says, we are kickin’ it up a notch around here. I’ve been involved with LMC for more than 30 years, and I can say unequivocally, I like what I see. There’s never been a better time to serve your Alma Mater. There’s never been a better time to show your Bobcat pride. The more successful Lees-McRae is, the more value your degree holds in the marketplace. Why are you holding back? ‘Cause if you are, you are the one that’s missing out.
I challenge you . . . kick it up a notch. Get fired up for LMC.